Lee Westwood had to be content with a share for second place and a cheque for more than £300,000 in Ohio last night as he was beaten by Vijay Singh in the WGC Bridgestone Invitational.
Just one stroke separated the Fijian from the Englishman and the Australian Stuart Appleby in a nerve-wracking climax in which Westwood had his chances. It was a fine performance, however, and augurs so well for this week's US PGA Championship at Oakland Hills.
Just like at the US Open in June, Westwood overcame a set-back in his final round to present a challenge that only just fell short. His tournament looked all but done when he double-bogeyed the short seventh, as at this stage he was four behind Singh and the other overnight leader, Phil Mickelson. But as the putting of the pacesetters started to stutter, Westwood valiantly recovered his composure and birdies on the 11th and 13th brought him back into contention.
Alas, a bogey on the 14th, when he found a bunker with one of his few errant tee shots of the week, cost him dear and try as he may he could not find the birdie he needed down the Firestone stretch. He came closest at the 17th, but the seven-footer agonisingly slipped by. Nevertheless, the 35-year-old now heads to Detroit as one of the favourites for the year's final major. Alongside him on the private jet making the short trip will be his friend Darren Clarke. Theirs will be a happy journey as the Ulsterman also enjoyed a fantastic tournament. And, if anything his achievement in finishing sixth was even more commendable. Clarke has played his way back into the Ryder Cup picture and, at the very least, will be another option for Nick Faldo, when it comes to his two wildcard selections.
It was Singh who was the worthy recipient of the near £700,000 first prize, though, and his first WGC victory will have been made all the sweeter by the fate that befell Phil Mickelson. The pair have had their run-ins and when Mickelson had a short putt to go two clear with four remaining last night it looked like the Californian would claim bragging rights. But he missed and from there the world No 2 had three bogeys in the last four holes to plummet into a share for fourth. Mickelson's short-game was nowhere near its usual standard and he has some urgent work to put in before Oakland Hills.
Singh had his own woes on the greens as he missed four putts inside of eight feet over the final 11 holes. Yet he made the ones that mattered; a four-footer for par on the 17th to stay in the lead, and then another on the last to finish 10-under and avoid a shootout. The victory will take Singh back into the world's top five.